Live from ThunderDome!
No specific announcements about tonight’s SmackDown from WWE yet, but the big angles will obviously focus on our Royal Rumble winners. Bianca Belair and Edge are both expected to use their WrestleMania 37 main event spots to challenge for blue brand belts - specifically Sasha Banks’ SmackDown Women’s and Roman Reigns’ Universal championship.
Whether we’ll get their official declarations on Feb. 5 isn’t clear. There’s said to be some uncertainty about The EST’s ‘Mania match, which likely has to do with whether or not to add Bayley to keep it from being face vs. face. WWE is trying to create some drama around the Rated R Superstar’s pick. It didn’t help them in the ratings this week though, so who knows how long they’ll drag it out for.
Edge vs. Reigns is exciting. There’s a story built-in beyond just the one every good guy has opposite Roman’s mob boss character, and I don’t mean “spear vs. spear”. It’s how the Tribal Chief is holding the title that took the place of the one Edge vacated when he retired back in 2011. He’s coming to claim what’s rightfully his.
That, and the prospect of Drew McIntyre vs. Edge wasn’t setting the world on fire.
Exciting as it is, Edge jumping to SmackDown for the Road to WrestleMania will bump several possible Roman challengers to the back burner. The glaring example is Daniel Bryan. WWE and DB did an amazing job selling the story of how he needed to win the Rumble and get one last big match at the Showcase of the Immortals before heading off to be a full-time family man and part-time wrestler. Where does he go now that isn’t happening?
New dad Seth Rollins, who returned from paternity leave last Sunday to eliminate the YES man from the Rumble, is a name being bandied about. That certainly could work. The match would be great and most of the criticisms Bryan’s leveled at the Head of the Table work apply to the SmackDown Savior, too.
We also have time between now and April 10 & 11 to either have a mini Bryan/Reigns program, or tell a complete story putting Rollins in his former Shield brother’s place. While they’re at it, it would probably help to differentiate (or align?) Roman & Seth’s methods & missions.
But SmackDown’s proven itself as the WWE show most likely to address those kind of issues rather than just hand wave them. We’ll see what happens starting tonight.
The title scene
Another guy who’s been being built for a Reigns’ feud (at least on Talking Smack) is Big E. But he still has plenty of business to deal with around his own Intercontinental title. His involvement in the Rumble was mostly with Raw Superstars, furthering the New Day/RETRIBUTION beef and getting tossed by AJ Styles’ friend Omos. Look for him to pick up dealing with Sami Zayn and Apollo Crews (who missed last Friday and the Rumble) on the Road to ‘Mania.
The SmackDown Tag Team champions also missed last week’s SmackDown, and Robert Roode wasn’t on the PPV, either. Dolph Ziggler worked the Rumble, and tied John Cena & Triple H for appearances in the match in the process. When it comes to the Dirty Dawgs belts... we’re still waiting for untitled authority figure Sonya Deville to clear Street Profits for their rematch.
New WWE Women’s Tag Team champs Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler will likely be focused on Mondays, since new #1 contenders Lana & Naomi call Raw home. But if they show up to beat down the vile Riott Squad for continuing to break Billie Kay’s heart, I won’t be mad.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- Carmella & Kevin Owens both lost on Sunday, and figure to be moving out of the main event picture for a while.
- He failed to prove to his dad he could deal with King Corbin by himself last Friday, but then Dominik Mysterio went and eliminated Corbin from the Rumble. Will that convince Rey to not bring in back-up... especially not that the King is down to just one knight?
- Tonight is one of only three shows before Elimination Chamber. If Edge is coming for the Head of the Table, the blue brand men may not get a Chamber, but they should. Bryan, Cesaro, KO, Shinsuke Nakamura, Chad Gable, Otis... figure out something for them to fight for, Adam Pearce!
- Oh yeah. Almost forgot that Braun Strowman is back. Read into that what you will.
It’s the Royal Rumble fallout show!
What will you be looking for on SmackDown tonight?